Austin L. Wright

About me

I am an Assistant Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at The University of Chicago.  

For academic year 2021-2022, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale University School of Management.  For academic years 2022-2024, I am a faculty affiliate of the The Georg Walter Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy.

My research on substate conflict leverages big data to study the political economy and organizational behavior underpinning the use of violence. This research examines the conditions under which rebel groups adopt new technologies of war to undermine state rivals and the interventions governments can implement to minimize civilian harm during armed conflict. I also study the political economy of crime and pandemic response. Combined, this body of research addresses important topics in operations research, clarifying nuanced mechanisms to improve a variety of policy interventions. My work is supported by the Becker Friedman Institute, National Science Foundation, World Bank, United Nations, and Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts.  I am a faculty affiliate of the Pearson Institute and Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.

At Harris, I primarily teach in the Applied Statistics Core, with a focus on using causal inference tools to better understand public policy interventions. I have received several teaching prizes, including the 2017 Outstanding Junior Faculty of the Year Award (Harris) as well as the 2015 George Kateb Prize for Best Preceptor in Politics (Princeton). In 2023, I won the Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award. I was also selected to give the 2021 Last Lecture for graduating students. 

During my time at Harris, I have founded and currently direct four credential programs, linking students from a diverse set of educational and professional backgrounds with the rigorous programming and analytical training we provide to our degree students. 

I received my B.A. and B.S. from The University of Texas at Austin and my Ph.D. from Princeton University.  Before attending graduate school, I was a Teach For America corps member in New Orleans, Louisiana where I taught mathematics.  

I am a father (to three amazing children), a first generation college graduate, an underrepresented minority, a Toyota Land Cruiser fanatic, and an avid fisherman. 

CV: You can find my CV here